Beer Run

How New Glory worked to stand apart from Sacramento brewery competition

Transplanted Frenchman Julien Lux opened New Glory Craft Brewery just over three years ago when he was a talented, 25-year-old home brewer ready to put down roots in a Sacramento beer scene that was exploding.

In those early days, the consensus was that his beers were well made but maybe lacked a certain pizazz or personality that would set New Glory apart from the deluge of new competition. With a small-batch setup, Lux was working 18 hours a day brewing beer, but when he came up for air and took stock of what he was doing, he realized his beers weren’t a true reflection of what he wanted to be as a brewer.

“We were brewing really good beers from the get-go, but we were playing it safer,” Lux said. “I think that’s the biggest change that happened with New Glory and the approach that we took. When you start a business and have half a million dollars on the line, you have that pressure – ‘Hey, I can’t fail.’ After our first year, I said, ‘We need to do something more.’ I wasn’t happy as a brewer. We were making good examples of standard beers, but the competition was getting stiffer and those standard beers would only take us so far.”

Now in full stride, New Glory and head brewer Cory Meyer are producing beer after beer that connects with a customer base that is more knowledgeable, adventurous and discerning than ever. Several of these beers, including the year-round lineup, are among my local favorites – including an extra pale ale and a French saison that are wonderfully balanced, complex and, perhaps most important, distinctive.

New Glory’s rise to prominence is instructive in several ways. Lux and his team began taking risks, pushing the boundaries in terms of styles and combinations of ingredients and doing it at a dizzying pace.

Lux scaled back the core inventory of beers from eight to five (three in cans, two in bottles) and began launching a series of dynamic new releases.

Turns out, New Glory’s evolution aligned with the evolution of consumers. If you loved the Key Lime Gose and all its briny, citrusy goodness, you had to pounce because soon it would be gone. If you were digging the rather incredible Cucumber Lemon Pilsner or the Ginger Peach Saison, you had to make a mad dash to the tasting room or find them in cans at a discerning bottle shop. The brewery is about to launch its Raspberry Berliner Weisse, and Lux is already excited about the Coconut Mandarin Gose due in December. These are all part of a rather remarkable Curioste Series available at the tasting room on draft and on four packs of 16-ounce cans for $15 (tax and CRV included).

Soon, once-staid New Glory was one of the coolest, most creative and skillful breweries around. If you’ve had trouble keeping up after encountering some of this deliciousness and find yourself obsessively checking websites and social media for word about Lux’s next small-batch release, congratulations – you’re now a serious beer geek.

That’s right, the craft beer consumer is decidedly different from five years ago. Back then, if you mentioned a beer with Cascade, Citra or Simcoe, you’d get a deer-in-the-headlights response from most folks. Now, if you don’t know these major hop varieties and what they do for flavors of your favorite India pale ale, you’re falling behind. A few years ago, hardly anyone knew what a cicerone was. Now certified cicerones, the beer version of a sommelier, are commonplace. On and on it goes.

Lux, still a few weeks shy of turning 29, was wise to see that what he and Meyer wanted to do as brewers were in sync with what many consumers wanted from a brewery – edgy, exciting, well-crafted. New Glory’s beers are all of the above.

New Glory Craft Brewery is at 8251 Alpine Ave. Call 916-451-9355 or visit www.newglorybeer.com.

Blair Anthony Robertson: 916-321-1099, @Blarob

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